Dentists will be sent into schools to treat children’s teeth and be given bonuses for taking on new NHS patients under government plans.
Ministers hope to create 2.5 million more appointments across England over the next year to tackle the scourge of ‘dental deserts’, which has seen long queues form outside surgeries.
Recently published official data revealed one in six children are leaving primary school with rotten teeth and a quarter of adults have delayed dental treatment due to the cost.
In a bid to put an end to an epidemic of childhood tooth decay, mobile dental teams will deliver fluoride varnish treatments, which helps strengthen teeth and prevent them from rotting, to some 165,000 pupils attending schools in deprived areas.
Meanwhile, nurseries will teach children to see tooth brushing as part of their daily routine under a ‘Smile for Life’ scheme.
Dentists will be sent into schools to treat children’s teeth and be given bonuses for taking on new NHS patients under government plans (Stock Photo)
Recently published official data revealed one in six children are leaving primary school with rotten teeth (Stock Photo)
Dentists will receive a ‘new patient’ payment of between £15 and £50 to offer check-ups to 1 million people who have not seen an NHS dentist in two or more years.
The size of the payment will depend on how much treatment the patient needs and will be supported by £200million of additional government funding.
Up to 240 NHS dentists will also be paid a £20,000 ‘golden hello’ to work in under-served areas for three years.
New ways of delivering care in remote rural and coastal areas will be rolled out, including roaming ‘dental vans’, while patients will be able to see available dental places on the NHS app.
And NHS work will be made more attractive with the minimum dentists are paid for each ‘unit of activity’ rising from £23 to £28.
The health service will build ‘a pipeline of new dentists’ and other dental care professionals, including increasing dental training places by up to 40 per cent by 2031/32.
The government will consult on whether dentists should be required to work in the NHS for a fixed period upon completion of their training.
Up to 240 NHS dentists will also be paid a £20,000 ‘golden hello’ to work in under-served areas for three years (Stock Photo)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hosts a cabinet meeting in 10 Downing Street on February 6, 2024
Rishi Sunak said services are improving, with 23 per cent more treatments delivered last year compared with the year before. But he admitted that ‘for too many people, accessing a dentist isn’t as easy as it should be’.
The Prime Minister added: ‘That’s why we’re taking action today to boost the number of NHS dentists, help cut waiting lists and put NHS dentistry on a sustainable footing for the long-term.
Backed by £200million, this new recovery plan will deliver millions more NHS dental appointments and provide easier and faster access to care for people right across the country.’
A report by health think-tank the Nuffield Trust warned in December that NHS dentistry has ‘gone for good’ and said patients should be means-tested if it is to survive at all.
Chief executive Thea Stein said the new plan is ‘not going to be anywhere like big enough to restore universal access to NHS dentistry’, adding: ‘Doing so would cost billions, so real honesty is needed about what the public can and should expect from NHS dentistry and when they are expected to pay privately for care.’
Shawn Charlwood, chairman of the British Dental Association’s general dental practice committee, dismissed the plan as merely ‘rearranging the deckchairs’.